Behind the scenes: reflecting on cross-gender interview dynamics in Mexico City

  • Mariana Rios Sandoval University of Amsterdam and GIRE, Group of Information for Reproductive Choice

Abstract

During the summer of 2007 I set out on a qualitative exploratory study in Mexico City that later became a masters dissertation. The study was focused on conversations with a group of men about everyday practices, expectations, ideas and feelings related to parenting, and this was an entry point into exploring constructions of fatherhood and masculinity. As I stumbled through my first in-depth interviews I felt excited, thrilled and touched, but also uneasy, overwhelmed and undeniably puzzled by a whole range of dilemmas that appeared to emerge every time I so much as stopped to think about the course of my research. The six weeks of fieldwork were a truly formative experience. An experience that made me reflect for long hours about the ethics and politics of the research process. I came to recognise that ultimately, the picture of fatherhood drawn in my study was to a certain extent negotiated with the participants, shaped by our interaction and informed by personal backgrounds, expectations, emotions and lived experiences. I believe that reflecting on this aspect of the ethnographic encounter along with communicating those reflections constitute a fundamental part of the learning exercise. The latter is precisely the purpose of the present article: communicating such reflections.

Author Biography

Mariana Rios Sandoval, University of Amsterdam and GIRE, Group of Information for Reproductive Choice
Mariana Rios Sandoval currently works for GIRE (Group for Information on Reproductive Choice), a Mexican NGO dedicated to defending and promoting sexual and reproductive rights, particularly abortion rights. Her research interests include gender, feminisms, masculinity studies, critical medical anthropology, sexual and reproductive rights and policies. She can be reached at rios.ma(AT)gmail.com.